State of Carolina

February 28, 2008
“Out of gas, out of road, out of car, and no where to go,” I mutter to myself. From behind the hood a voice answers, “What!”

“Nothing,” I snap back, nervously drumming my fingers on the steering wheel. With the windows down, I can hear a bird chirping happily somewhere. Sandpiper, maybe warbler, I think to myself. Whatever it is, I wish silently that our places were exchanged. To be a bird, I think, would be a perfect life.
Closing my eyes, I drift slowly into the sky and soar with the birds. Together, we glide silently and effortlessly
The voice from behind the hood pulls me from the sky and forces me back to reality. “Hey!” screams the voice, “I said, ‘try it again’!”
Swiftly grabbing the key from my lap, I force it into the ignition and pause. Please, I pray, please at least give me something, anything. Turning the key hard, I hear the engine groan as it tries to start. “Come on,” I whisper, “you can do it.” For a second, the engine appears to turn over and I’m soaring once again with the birds. Then; nothing. I’m back on the ground; stuck somewhere in the state of Carolina.
“Out of luck,” I mumble to no one.

The idea of luck seems to be a recurring theme in my life. In fact, sometimes it feels like my entire life has been based around my luck, or possible absence of it. I’m not even sure, now, that I’ve actually ever made a conscious decision; instead, always choosing to let the world move around me, trusting that my luck will carry me through unscathed.
With a strange philosophy like this, it’s not hard to imagine that I end up in a lot of unfavorable situations. Situations that, had I actually made a decision for myself, could have easily been avoided altogether. Thinking back though, I’m not sure that Carolina was ever one of those situations. Nothing I could have done would have prevented what happened; instead, only delaying the inevitable. I was destined for Carolina before I had taken my first breath.
From the beginning, I knew it was a bad idea; yet, I made no attempts to stop it. It was like watching a movie of my life; everything predetermined. All I could do was sit idly by and watch my own story unfold.
“Kevin,” I whisper forcefully, “Kevin, open the damn door. I’m serious, open it.” Tugging on the handle for the third time, I decide to forget the whole thing and turn around and go back inside. As I stomp angrily towards the garage door, I hear a door open behind me.
“You little girl,” mutters a skinny red-haired boy as he steps out of the car, “get back here and get in the damn car.” He walks quickly around the hood of the car and unlocks the passenger door with a small silver key. “You know I have to use the key.”
“Oh yeah,” I mumble as I walk back to car, “Well, you should’ve unlocked it earlier.” Tugging at the handle for the fourth time, the door pops open and I climb inside. The car is a silver Corolla and a virtual trash can on wheels. Before I can even sit down, I have to move a pile of garbage to the back seat. Surprisingly, the scent is light for a car full of trash and I can breathe fairly well.
Moving back around the hood, the red-haired boy opens the driver door and climbs inside. “Finally,” he jests as he slams the door shut, “Took you long enough.”
My cheeks flush with anger, I scream back at him, “Jesus, Kevin! It’s eight in the morning stop making so much noise!”
Kevin’s indifference to my anger is obvious as he throws the car in reverse, and backs smoothly up my driveway. “Whatever,” he replies coolly, “I can do whatever the hell I want. What’s your problem anyway? Didn’t you tell your parents that we were going to Carolina?”
By now my anger has faded to calm amusement, and already I’ve forgotten what only five minutes ago had made me so upset. Kevin had a strange way of doing that. “First of all,” I answer dryly, “Carolina is not a state; it’s either North Carolina or South Carolina.”
Kevin opens his mouth to say something undoubtedly sarcastic, but I don’t give him the chance. “Second of all,” I continue, “No, I didn’t tell my parents. Did you? I said we were going to Cedar Point.”
“Really?” replies Kevin, erupting in a high pitched laughter, “I said we were going to Cedar Point too!”
The situation is all laughter from this point, and Kevin turns up the stereo as we glide effortlessly onto the highway. Reaching abruptly into my pocket, I protrude a small folded piece of paper. Unfolding it slowly, I study its contents with care. From the corner of my eye, I can see Kevin watching me, but he says nothing and soon diverts his focus back to the music. “Out of gas, out of road, out of car, and no where to go,” he sings softly.
Satisfied with my thorough inspection of the paper and tired of the silence, I reach gingerly for the volume knob. “Okay,” I stutter over the hum of the stereo, “According to this map, it’ll take about four hours to get to North Carolina.”
“Map?” Kevin replies hotly, obviously annoyed that I felt this piece of information was worth turning the stereo down, “I don’t need a map to tell me how to get to Carolina.” Not waiting for a response, he turns the stereo volume back up; only this time, a little louder.
For a moment, I think about informing him again of Carolina being two separate states, but think better of it. Instead, I turn my gaze to the window, and the blur of the world flying past. How, I think to myself, did we ever get so bored as to think a road trip would be a good idea. It can’t possibly end well.
Returning my stare to the dashboard, I think again of starting up a conversation; this time, to ask if he wants me to drive. Don’t bother, I think, you know what his response will be. Then he’ll turn up the stereo even louder, though I doubt it’s possible. I’ll just wait until he gets tired and asks me, I firmly decide.
Pulling my hood over my face, I snuggle comfortably into the depths of the chair. “Wake me up the next time you stop,” I mutter, closing my eyes. Whether or not he hears me I don’t know, but he makes no response and I let my mind drift slowly away.
In my dreams, I see myself as a bird. Flying high above the world, I glide gently without a care. Only twice do I awaken; the first, to a bump in the road. It pulls me harshly from my life in the sky. Turning my head slightly, I see Kevin feverishly smoking a cigarette. The smoke drifts lazily over my head and mesmerizes my eyes. Its slow whisper-like movements lull me gently back to sleep; back to the birds.
The second time I awaken, it’s by a rough shove. “Wake up,” Kevin shouts into my ear, “I said, ‘wake up’!”
My body straightens up, and I rub my eyes in a vain effort to stay awake. “Are we there already?” I mumble.
“Well,” Kevin stutters quickly, “We’re definitely somewhere.” The sound in his voice sends goose bumps down my back. “What do you mean?” I question softly, more awake now than ever.
“Uhmm,” he stumbles, “I tried to take a short cut, but it didn’t really work out that well. I think we might be out of gas.” Opening my eyes, I see nothing, but an endless sea of grass.
“Oh, s***,” I mutter, the words falling out of mouth. “Calm down,” Kevin shoots back, his voice gaining strength, “I’m ‘gonna go check under the hood; you get in the driver seat.”
With a purpose, Kevin steps quickly out of the car and moves around to the hood. “Pop the hood,” he yells, his voice muted. Shuffling awkwardly, I position myself into the driver seat and take a firm hold of the steering wheel. “If only I was a bird,” I whisper closing my eyes; the words echoing endlessly.

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